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by Hedgebrook Staff

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Joni Takanikos is a writer and a Hedgebrook alumna. We asked her about her work and about being a Woman Authoring Change.

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Tell us about your work as a writer—do you write in multiple genres/forms?

I do use multiple forms of writing but I am aware that poetry is my foundation and inspiration.

I write as a form of exploration and explanation. It feels like a prayer going out to the Mystery. Sometimes the prayer is answered, half answered, or ends up some form of gibberish I am unable to translate. My writer’s landscape is heavily populated by poems and when I read prose I tend to hear it more in the language of poetry. I write a blog for Whidbey Life Magazine titled In Search Of Truth and Beauty. I write about whatever is relevant for me at the time of publication but I am expected to connect it to something happening in our small island community. My impetus is usually poetic in nature, literally, (Whidbey Island is a lovely natural environment), and so I often include a poem.

I have also begun writing for an online Community Inclusion Newsletter whose purpose is to share stories of individuals with intellectual disabilities actively participating in their communities with people without disabilities. I have just completed my second article for them. It has been a revelation and inspiration to interview all of the people for these stories, and by translating their experiences I hope to further the practice of inclusion in all of our environments.


Do you consider yourself an activist?

As the word activism is strictly defined, I would have to say no. In a broader sensibility and scope I would say yes. I am an activist in attempting to live my life in a non-ordinary way. I seek to move out of the enchantment of our cultural standards towards a life tuned to the soul’s longing. At times this can feel radical to others and even to me. I find living this way has the power to construct new bridges of understanding and acceptance. It may also inspire others to leave behind the safety of their carefully curated lives fenced by cultural expectations and forge a path more aligned with their dreams.


Would you characterize your writing as activist? Why or why not?

Taking poetic license I will leap off the cliff of activism, soaring, crashing and taking risks to expose the wounds, individual and collective and finding the truth lying down beside beauty, exposing the most vulnerable places of my heart. In this sense, I would answer that most artists are activists. Some years ago I wrote a political song, March on Washington, and it seems as if the need to march were never greater.

My writing in the present time would have this title: March on: Live the Unencumbered Truth and Beauty of Your Soul.


What impact do you hope your writing will have in the world?

I hope my writing will take my readers and listeners closer to their own deep sense of dwelling in the vast and open spaces of their indomitable souls. I am regularly brought to such vistas in my reading. I am still awestruck by the power of a poem or story that brings me either back to myself, or enables me to become someone completely different.


What’s the best feedback you’ve received from a reader?

In one of my early In Search of Truth and Beauty blog entries, The Truth of Poetry, I sought to pull the curtain back on the exotic and mysterious nature of poetry. I am surprised at how so many avid readers feel that poetry is inaccessible to them. One of the readers of that particular blog entry, who also happens to be a writer, told me that my blog helped her to to finally “get it” and to see poetry like any other form of writing.

I am also a singer/songwriter and after having recorded my first album, Strange Beauty, it was offered for sale at my local music store. A year later a young woman who had gone to school with my son called my house. She told me she had bought my album and she wanted me to know that she felt the music had saved her life. I cried when I got off the phone, just as I had on the evening I returned home from recording the album. I felt humbled by the power of an individual expression being embraced by another. One of my favorite poets, Li Young Lee, once said in an interview that he felt that the poet’s job was to “chart the invisible”. When writers expose the lay lines of their own hearts, the territory revealed becomes a communal dwelling.


About Joni Takanikos:

Joni Takanikos lives on Whidbey Island, Washington. She teaches yoga at Half Moon Yoga studio in Langley. She writes a blog for Whidbey Life Magazine. One of her artistic projects in 2015 is to bring the one act play, The Songbird of Paris, Edith Piaf, written by Martha Furey to an off Broadway theatre in NYC for an after hours weekend only performance this coming November. To hear two tracks from Joni’s second album, Love in a Mist, Devil in a Bush visit: http://soundcloud.com/jonitakanikos.



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Hedgebrook supports visionary women writers whose stories and ideas shape our culture now and for generations to come. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily representative of the opinions of Hedgebrook, its staff or board members.

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